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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Honors New Jersey Environmental Champions

Contact Information: 
Jennifer May-Reddy (may.jennifer@epa.gov)

(New York, N.Y. – May 13, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored six individuals and organizations from across New Jersey with Environmental Champion Awards for their achievements in protecting public health and the environment. EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck was joined by Murray Fisher, founder of the New York Harbor School, to present the awards to this year’s recipients at a ceremony at the EPA’s offices in Manhattan. Students from Freehold, NJ also won the national President’s Environmental Youth Award competition while students from Medford, NJ received an honorable mention in the same competition. The awards are presented annually.

“It is a privilege for EPA to be able to recognize the dedication and accomplishments of these environmental trailblazers,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “These individuals and organizations from across New Jersey are an inspiration, encouraging us to do our best to protect the environment every day.”

The Environmental Champion Award winners from New Jersey (in alphabetical order) are:

Camden Collaborative Initiative

The Camden Collaborative Initiative was established by government agencies in order to supplement limited resources in the City of Camden to deal with its environmental and quality of life challenges. The Camden Collaborative Initiative now has more than 40 partners who address specific areas of concern. Accomplishments include: New Jersey’s first sustainability ordinance; brownfield cleanups; stormwater infrastructure projects; youth environmental programs; an educational resource guide; and, a silver-level certification from Sustainable Jersey.


For 23 years, CRISIS has served as an environmental and health protection group for the residents of Bridgewater and Somerset Counties in New Jersey regarding the remediation of the American Cyanamid Superfund Site. CRISIS reviewed, monitored and suggested environmental testing for the site and provided technical critiques of cleanup alternatives proposed for site. When the site-wide cleanup plan was finalized in 2015, it reflected years of work to ensure that community concerns were addressed.

Medford Township Public Schools
Medford Township Public Schools was the first school district in the country to power school buses using biodiesel and is the nation’s longest continuous user of biodiesel in a student transportation fleet. Converting its entire bus fleet to biodiesel fuel, such as soybean oil, has reduced smog-forming emissions by over 123,000 pounds and cut diesel particulate pollution by more than 2,400 pounds, while reducing the cost of operating their fleet by $80,000 annually.

Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.

Over the past five years, the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. provided resources, publications, trainings and technical assistance to communities, schools, and businesses throughout New Jersey. These programs have delivered innovative and sustainable solutions with measurable environmental results. These efforts have included tackling electronic-waste, recycling in schools, and composting and organics management, among other environmental issues.

Sandra Meola

Sandra Meola manages NY/NJ Baykeeper’s communications work and is currently leading their Plastic Reduction Campaign. Sandra is an advocate for the public’s interest to pursue a healthy, fishable and swimmable Hudson-Raritan Estuary watershed, as well as a coalition-builder and strategic planner. She is a major contributor to the Region 2 EPA Trash Free Waters Partnership. 

Wall Township Environmental Advisory Committee

The Wall Township Environmental Advisory Committee produced a pictorial book entitled “Life in Wall Township: Past and Present”, which is a 35th Year Commemorative Heritage book.  The book includes over 350 photographs, maps, documentation and illustrations covering all of the icons of Wall Township, including local plants and animals, water bodies, gardens, farms, and historic natural sites.


Every year, students and educators compete nationally for the honor of receiving the President’s Environmental Youth Award. There is only one winner in each region, along with honorable mention recipients. This year’s winners and honorable mention recipients in EPA’s Region 2 are from New Jersey.


Greenhouse Gladiators
“Fighting Deforestation of the Pine Barrens with Vertical Greenhouses”

Biotechnology High School

Freehold, New Jersey

Two high school students, Ranjan Pati and Michael Abelar, discovered that the Pine Barrens was suffering from deforestation due to its agriculture uses of growing cranberries and blueberries. Under the supervision of Ann MacLean, the students built the first-ever scale model of a cost-effective vertical greenhouse using plastic reflectors instead of the usual LED lighting. Their design has received national and international recognition and they have been awarded thousands of dollars in grants in order to expand their program. They are currently reaching out to NJ farmers and asking them to make a pledge not to expand into the Pine Barrens in exchange for help with making a full-size vertical greenhouse for their farm.


Medford Memorial Middle School
Citizen Science Education Program

Medford, New Jersey

Medford Memorial Middle School’s Citizen Science Education Program is the brainchild of two 7th grade students and one teacher. The program has five facets, the two most important of which are improving the scientific literacy of the community and teaching 21st century workforce skills to the students. The program was created by students and continues to be run and organized by students. One big achievement is the Medford Science Summit; a student run program that teaches community members about climate change and its effect on the local environment. In the second year of this summit, over 200 community members attended, and the students ran 20 different stations. The program coordinator, Victoria Gorman, and the members of the Citizen Science Education Program are exploring ways to duplicate the program in schools across the country. 

For more details, visit: www.epa.gov/aboutepa/environmental-champion-awards.

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